Business Sense

1. Introduction

Businesses selling goods or services via distance methods may be winning the battle against High Street companies, but competition on the internet requires the employment of different tactics in order to remain viable.

Consumers are able to find the best deals often at the click of a mouse - search for a product on Google and then count the number of price comparison or review websites which come up in the first 3 pages of results.

To counter competitiveness through pricing alone, many companies employ tactics such as Loyalty Schemes, Multiple Product Offers, Value Adds, Free Draws and so on. Increasingly the best offers are coming from non-UK based companies due to strength in local currency against the weak £.

UK based companies will typically have a larger overhead per product/service compared to their overseas competitors, and as such may find it difficult to match of even get close to such strong offers. So what else can a UK based company do?

The answer is provided by legislation itself, which affords the UK consumer protection which far outweighs that offered in many other parts of the world. Sure you can often buy the latest digital gadget from the USA, Asia or France for less than you can in the UK but what happens when it goes wrong...

Assume a customer purchases a new camera via the internet from a website based in the USA. Before the camera has even left the warehouse, the customer decides they have changed their mind and informs the business from which it was purchased. Seven days later the camera arrives and the customer frustrated at not having a response from the form they filled in online tries to call the company in question, and when the call is not answered put a complaint in writing.

Assuming the company is legitimate (although the customer will have no way of confirming this) what are the customers rights under US law? A company in the US will include in its Terms & Conditions that the contract is subject to the jurisdiction of US (and possibly even state) law.

Through news reports over the last year or so the public are beginning to understand the relevance of legislation such as E-Commerce Regulations and Distance Selling Regulations. Many are now aware that they have a cooling off period and that they are entitled to have the delivery charges refunded along with the original cost of the goods/services purchased - many businesses unfortunately do not!

The regulations can be quite confusing for many and are often misinterpreted by businesses and consumers alike. All UK based businesses are required to comply with the legislation - demonstrating your compliance will not only give consumers the confidence to do business with you but may also increase your competitiveness.

DSRcheck will check your website and your Terms and Conditions for compliance, saving your business the hassle of interpreting the legislation. Upon confirmation of compliance we will provide our compliance logo and a page to which it will link, detailing all checked elements including a copy of your Terms & Conditions.

Validity will be for a period of 1 year from the date on which compliance was confirmed, as long as compliance continues; including the requirement to amend Terms & Conditions following changes in legislation. DSRcheck currently charges £140 for our compliance services - to request a compliance check please click HERE.

*Note this service is offered to businesses in England and Wales ONLY.

2. Consumer Protection (DIstance Selling) Reulations 2000

Key elements of the regulations which we check:

  • provision of clear information relating to goods/services
  • transparent pricing (e.g. VAT)
  • delivery arrangements and costs
  • payment methods
  • cancellation rights
  • 7 days cooling off period

  • 3. E-Commerce Regulations

    includes the following checks:

    • Business name
    • Registration numbers (if held on any publicly available record e.g. Companies House)
    • Geographic address
    • Other contact details including email address (an online form is not sufficient)
    • VAT registration number (if applicable)
    • details of membership of professional bodies
    • particulars of any supervisory body if the service is subect to an authorisation scheme

    4. What we do

    DSRcheck will inspect your Terms & Conditions for Compliance with current Distance Selling Regulations and E-Commerce Regulations.

    If any areas of non-compliance are found we will notify you and invite you to make changes, and once notified that changes have been made, we will check again.

    During the check process we will carry out our communication channels checks. We will write to you and request a dummy invoice, to check for compliance with written material requirements.

    Once all checks have been completed all information (not private contact details) will be built onto your own page on DSRcheck (including a full copy of your Terms & Conditions). We will then provide you with our compliance trustmark and link details for you to display on your website.

    5. What we DON'T do

    DSRcheck DO NOT write your Terms & Conditions for you. You MUST have your Terms & Conditions in place before asking us to evaluate and mark them as compliant.

    *In cases where DSRcheck is unsuitable (in the case of businesses where no contract is concluded by Distance Methods) we will provide a full refund (minus a nominal fee to cover transaction charges - maximum of £15).